Thursday, December 04, 2008

NZ Ombudsmen annual report published

Press Release
2 December 2008
Office of the Ombudsmen

Some public servants playing games with OIA requests

The Office of the Ombudsmen is concerned some parts of the public service have been deliberately delaying responses to Official Information requests.

In the office’s Annual Report to Parliament, Chief Ombudsmen Beverley Wakem says the practice is unacceptable and subverts the purpose of the legislation.

Beverley Wakem says the Office has observed an increasing tendency by a few government departments and Ministerial offices to ignore the provisions of the Official Information Act over the timing of responses to requesters.

“While in some cases this was clearly a misunderstanding of their obligations, there is also a regrettable tendency to game the system and delay responses until the complainants’ interest in the matter had passed,” she says.
She also says the Ombudsmen find it troubling that 25 years after the OIA came into force, many government agencies have still not recognised – and responded appropriately – to the fact that dealing efficiently and effectively with requests made under the legislation requires an ongoing programme of training for staff.

She notes that there has been a considerable turnover in agency staff and a loss of institutional knowledge of agency obligations in responding to Ombudsmen’s enquiries.

Full press release.

The Annual Report of the Office of the Ombudsmen can be downloaded from

See also the press release issued by Green Party's in response to the Ombudsmen's report 'Open government needs open information'

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